News & Politics

Trump Bucks G20 Climate Consensus as Group Releases 2018 'Declaration'

Trump Bucks G20 Climate Consensus as Group Releases 2018 'Declaration'
Leaders attending G20 summit conference pose for commemorative photograph in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 30, 2018. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

There may not be a scientific consensus on the cause of climate change, but there certainly was a consensus among politicians at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Buenos Aires on Saturday. Out of the 20 world leaders gathered, 19 signed off on supporting and adhering to the Paris climate agreement. President Trump was the lone holdout.

The gathering released their final, non-binding “Declaration” on Saturday, with consensus on reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO), other trade issues, and migration.

Items 20 and 21 note the U.S. differentiated from the other 19 countries represented on climate.

19. A strong economy and a healthy planet are mutually reinforcing. We note the latest IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5 degrees centigrade. We recognize the importance of comprehensive adaptation strategies, including investment in infrastructure that is resilient to extreme weather events and disasters. In this sense, we support actions and cooperation in developing countries, especially those that are particularly vulnerable, including small island states such as those in the Caribbean. We discussed long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies and alignment of international finance flows. We also shared countries´ experiences and considered the 2018-2019 work program on adaptation, acknowledging that each country may chart its own path to achieving a low emission future. We look forward to successful outcomes of the UNFCCC COP24, and to engage in the Talanoa Dialogue.

20. Signatories to the Paris Agreement, who have also joined the Hamburg Action Plan, reaffirm that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and commit to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. We will continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic

21. The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment.

Additionally, the final agreed-upon declaration nixed the word “protectionism” from the statements on trade, a nod to the current U.S. footing and the trade war between China and the U.S., which was the top topic among the 20 economic powerhouse economic bodies.

Item 27 addresses trade and, per pressure from the U.S., the need to reform the WTO.

27 . International trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. We recognize the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made to that end. The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement. We therefore support the necessary reform of the WTO to improve its functioning. We
will review progress at our next Summit.

And on migration, the language was what some EU negotiators referred to as “minimalist,” on the grounds that anything more substantial would be a “deal breaker” for President Trump.

17. Large movements of refugees are a global concern with humanitarian, political, social and economic consequences. We emphasize the importance of shared actions to address the root causes of displacement and to respond to growing humanitarian needs.

In the AP report, the best line by far was “European Union officials said the United States was the main holdout on nearly every issue.” Essentially, the United States muscled in ideas that our current leadership favors, and held out on those that our leadership does not favor. We dictated most of the terms.

That is a feature, not a bug. Even if you favor policies this administration doesn’t, or don’t favor those it does, it means the U.S. was back in the driver’s seat, and putting our interests first.

The president at the moment of this posting meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. We will have more on that shortly.